What is a semantic analysis?

Timo Gierse

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Semantic analysis is a method of search engine optimization that has its origins in linguistics. The aim of this analysis is to investigate the deeper meaning of the words used on a website in order to show up uniquely in the search results for the respective keywords.

Definition

As part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Semantic Analysis goes beyond keyword analysis to tailor a website’s content to the language of its audience. By and large, a semantic analysis first shows the topic of a web page and offers possibilities for further thematic search engine optimization – especially with regard to search intentions of the users. The analysis of the language helps to clarify the whole range of topics of the page.

Capture the range of topics

Since search engines are able to understand homonyms (words with multiple meanings), they can more easily understand the exact topic of the page by analyzing the rest of the web page. To do this, the search engine assigns a number of other words to the search term that match the search query. The more these terms are present on your site, the greater the associated authority(domain authority) of your site. This ultimately also helps you get better results on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

For example, one online store specializes in “wings”. Finding the site via its main topic “wings” is nearly impossible – too many other sites are competing with that keyword for high results in the SERPs. The analysis helps to define the topic “wings” in more detail and to focus the whole page on the actual topic.

If you want to sell a concert grand piano with your site, it is important to make it clear to the search engine that you are not producing toy airplane parts, but pianos. Otherwise your customers would not find your site again. For a long time, homonyms like wings – a word with two different meanings – were a difficulty for search engines. First of all, Google must be able to distinguish that your website is about musical instruments and not about airplanes.

How can Google do that?

Search engines now determine the relevance of the page not only by the number of keywords, but by the overall structure. Since the search engine includes the whole content in its result calculation, it is important to optimize the texts semantically.

In order to display personalized search results to its customers, the search engine needs to know both ends of the path. By semantically analyzing the user’s previous usage behavior, the search engine can analyze the user’s web history and thus personalize the results. A model builder will get results from other websites than the musician you want to attract as a customer.

On the other hand, the search engine needs to understand what kind of information a page offers. Therefore, as a website owner, you should know your audience, analyze the content of your site and tailor it to your target audience by describing your products as accurately as possible. You can use Google’s review of your site to improve your results in the SERPs. Because Google determines the authority of the web page to its topic not only by how often the keyword “grand piano” appears, but also whether the other terms of the texts (e.g. piano, piano, musical instrument, string etc) fit to this topic. Even meta information and the file names of the images are probably used by Google to analyze the website.

Determination of semantic words

With this knowledge you can get your site a better ranking by Google by analyzing and then optimizing the content – especially the texts. By choosing the right terms, you can influence how well Google knows your website – and with how many search terms the site can be found.

The optimization of the page often succeeds through the WDF*IDF formula. The abbreviation stands for Within Document Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency. This can be used to determine how often keywords of a website are used compared to all others. This way, the relevance of the page for search engines can be improved without having to access only the keywords.

How does a semantic analysis work?

Fortunately, humans are superior to machines when it comes to understanding deeper meaning of texts and contexts – and writing.

Semantic analysis should be a constant part of your work on the website and should run like a thread through search engine optimization. It already starts with the keyword analysis. It is no longer a matter of simply finding as many synonyms as possible for your keywords. Instead, you should consider appropriate terms from your whole range of topics. You can also be more creative in your wording when searching for long tail keywords. Which terms fit to your topics? Which phrases don’t include the keywords but fit them? At the end of this preliminary work is a review of how the results on text, metadata, image titles and URL stack up against the search volume for the right keywords.

Relevance for SEO

Semantic search improves user search results so significantly that it has become an indispensable part of modern search engine technology. Since algorithms today understand not only the different meanings of terms, but also the deeper information of words, you need to consider these semantics when designing your site.

It’s no longer enough to just create an extensive keyword collection to get your website in the front of the SERPs. The overall context of the page must fit – not only the texts, but also the metadata and URL must be aligned so that they reflect the subject area of your page as accurately as possible.

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